Wednesday, 4 December 2013

First Impressions. O.M.G.

Maggie's arrival, looking stunning dare I say, signalled the time to for me make myself scarce. Popping upstairs to get my clobber on I heard the door bell go. Lyn had arrived for Jeannie's morning coffee get together. It was 1130 by 1145 all three where at the kitchen window watching me mount up, lid down and ride away.

As I sat there with the motor running I began to smile. So quite, yet harbouring so much power. I'll admit, I was a little apprehensive. Not nervous but wary, a respectful wary. It had been 4 years since I'd ridden a 'pure bread' Super Sports Bike. That's if you can call a Triumph 675 Daytona a Super Sports Bike. 

I'd sold that due to the sheer amount of problems I'd had with it. However every time I'd ridden it I'd grinned in exactly the same way as I was doing right then as I slowly pulled through the gates. 

Watching the traffic pass this way and that, my nerves settled and the grin just got bigger and bigger.  Eventually the road cleared and I pulled out, the sound from the exhausts was a little higher pitched than I’d heard before, not moped high just high. First, second, third and back down to second through the box as smooth as silk.  

I was surprised to find traffic lights at the bottom of the road but at least they allowed me to filter to the front only to discover the traffic was now being forced to flow the wrong way round the roundabout! The lights flicked to green. As I pulled away the Corsa that I’d been waiting at the side of stuck to me rear end like glue. Having to ride through the gravel and dirt on the wrong side of the roundabout did not impress me, especially as the tyres were still brand new. Still in first gear I felt the back end step out, just a fraction but enough for my Corsa shadow to hit the breaks. Hanging right I was off up the hill, 40 mph arrived in the blink of an eye. I slipped up into third. My shadow reappeared so I pulled over into the inside lane to allow the eager beaver to pass. A quick glance over to my right to find the driver was a girl! So much for 'boy racers'! 

One thing struck me immediately, this bike can move and I mean seriously move. Especially when compared with my last two bikes the FJR and the XT1200Z which I’d been used to for the last 4 years. Filtering through the mid day traffic in Rochdale town centre was so easy. No bulky panniers to worry about for one thing. I found myself laughing and whooping as I rode along. I felt like a big kid on Christmas morning.  

With all of 6 miles on the clock I slid the back end out as I pulled up the right-hander towards the M6. 30,40,50, 60, 70 mph and I was still only in third. Slipping through the gears with the minimum of effort I noticed the exhaust tone drop, bang on 50 mph. How do I explain the change in  sound to a non rider? Well its like listening to a small kittens high pitch purring when it suddenly opening it's mouth real wide and growls like a fully grown lion. It’s a wonder to behold and had me screaming Yeehar at the top of my voice. So loud the guy sat at the lights just shook his head in disbelief. Believe me if you’ve  never ridden a  thorough bred super sports-bike you’re missing out on one of life's true pleasures.

Coasting along the M62 towards Manchester (town) I could not believe how sensitive and precise the steering was. The more I wound the throttle the louder the growling became but not in an obtrusive way, you understand. More of a reassuring protective way. Again I found myself laughing out loud. Anyone at the lights at junction 17 heading into town must have thought I'd lost lost plot. 

Arriving at the Adventure Bike Warehouse in Sale to find it closed on a Monday annoyed me. I was immediately cheered up by listening to the beautiful purring motor. This bike is something else totally. To be treated with the upmost respect it deserves. It was at that very moment I realised Jessie and I are going to be very happy together. The apprehensive feelings I'd had just 20 minutes earlier we're gone, Jessie fits me perfectly. 

A quick ride back into town I called first into Hein Gericke for a quick look around what turned out to be a very poorly stocked shop. The guys told me they didn’t have what I was looking for so I left Jessie outside and nipped over the road to try out the Kriega R30 rucksack in the Triumph dealers. 

I was delighted with the rucksack, the fit, feel and size were just what I was looking for but there is no way on earth I'm ridding around on a 20th Anniversary Edition Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade with a Triumph branded bag on my back. Sorry Mr Salesman but it's just never going to happen even if you did give me a cup of coffee, which I appreciated by the way.

My next stop involved an interesting ride through the centre of town cutting up along Back Oldham Street and the Northern Quarter to get to Portland Street and my favourite bike gear store of all, the Manchester Dainese Store. Pulling onto the pavement in front of the window brought a few strange looks but I didn't care, this is town! Best way to ensure your bike is safe is to make sure you can see it at all times, simples.

It didn't take long before I was chatting to the sales guy,  Phil I think he was called (sorry mate I'm rubbish with names). Kindly checking the system for a Dainese Draken two piece leather suit. I was informed they no longer stock the Draken suit as it was discontinued in 2012.  There was nothing for it I’d just have to start my search for something as close to it as possible. It didn’t take long with Phil’s help  to find what I was looking for a Dainese Avro two pice suite from this years collection. It looked great and comes with elasticated leather stretching sections above the knees no less. 

My middle age spread is getting the better of me, or is that just good living the jury's out on that one! I found size 52 European sizing that is thank you very much, fitted like a glove. I've only moved up one size in the last 20 years I'll have you know! 

Spotting the vast selection of Arai Helmets off toward the main entrance I took a wander over, setting off the security gates in the process. By this time I had Phil's undivided attention as everyone else had left the shop and he'd eventually put the phone down which never stopped ringing the entire time I was in there.
Trying on a rather nice black, red and white Aria RX-7 GP in Mick Doohan Special TT Edition livery I just had to have it. Back in my filthy Gortex Dainese gear I went into bargaining mode only to be informed their not allowed to discount current lines. Just as well there was £100 already off the helmet.  Another couple of pounds came off the price plus an Aria Helmet bag, black visor and finally a neck tube were added and so I was pleased to say we had ourselves a deal. I was a little surprised to be told the jacket does not have a 'pocket' in the rear to contain a back protector. So it was time to try on and buy a suitable back protector. I needed to escape as the bill was getting away from me but what a fantastic feeling. 

So after a very worth while hour and a quarter I'd managed to kit myself out ready for next years fine weather, that's if we get any. Agreeing to collect all my kit and my old helmet as I chose to wear the new one, on Thursday when Jeannie and I are visiting the Manchester Christmas Market, I remounted my wonderful 'Grin Machine’ and struggled back onto Portland Street. 

It was 1330 hours and I'd covered all of 24 miles including the 4 miles she had on her this morning after me collecting her from Rochdale Honda over 3 weeks ago. All I've managed to do is partially coat the vulnerable parts with 'Venture Shield' (more to follow on that process in a separate blog) and get her coated professionally in ACF50 by a good friend of mine called Steve. So with the day still young there was nothing for it but to headed to my beloved Derbyshire. 

Getting out of town was a pain but once out of the city centre bedlam riding towards Ashton-under-Lyne I headed out in the direction of Glossop. Purposely missing the Chapel-en-le-Fryth turning I headed straight through Glossop and got onto the A628 more lovingly know as the 'Snake Pass' towards Sheffield.

The ventilation in the Aria RX-7GP is superb, no misting  minimal noise and a fresh feel around my face the whole time told me I'd done the right thing in buying this amazing helmet. With Jessie doing her thing I could not believe how smooth and precise a motorbike can be. I used to think the 675 Dayton was special, which it was, but Jessie is in a league of  her own.  Her forgiving nature allows you to enjoy as much or in fact as little of her power as is possible without dread or drama. Cruising at 50 mph she’s as docile as a 600 but drop her into second or third and open the throttle and you’re gone.

I've no intensions of going daft on her, I'm too 'old and wrinkly' to even contemplate such ludicrous behaviour. The potential for disaster is overwhelmingly obvious, but rest assured I will enjoy every second I spend riding this wonderful machine. 

The riding position really brought home to me the 'head down, arse up' style of riding that I've missed for the last couple of years. It focuses both the mind and body into getting the job done with 100% attention being payed to what your supposed to be doing! Riding a motorbike. My legs, knees, wrists and fingers all took it in turn to remind me of my 51 years existence. The grin on my face even made my jaw ache by the time I stopped for a coffee at CMC in Clay Cross. Gutted to find  the cafe was closed at 1600 hours I headed straight of to Temple Normanton to visit my Mums grave, in the dark.

A quick ride back up the M1 past Sheffield I hung a left out of one set of 50 mph speed restrictions straight into another lot. Once I was clear of Huddersfield life got a little easier. However being dogged by 55 mph trucks in the middle lane and business men driving their company Ferrari's (in their minds) I soon realised the CBR is an idiot magnet. Every Tom, Dick and Harry just has to try and overtake you or sniff your exhaust fumes. Some things never change. At least I have nothing to prove unlike Mr Company Vauxhall/Passat/BMW driver! Chill out, there’s no rush to get your slippers on plus Emmerdale and Coronation Street are both repeated on Saturday and Sunday mornings so think on and give us riders a bit more space, please.

It would be all too easy to drone on about the exquisite styling, the amazing handling, the outrageous performance but to be honest I'm no motorcycle magazine reporter so I'll leave all that clever stuff to those that can do it justice. 

What I will say is I'm happy with my new bike and intend to have some wonderful times together which I'd like to share with you all. That's if you’re interested, of course. 

How can you not love something that look this good?

So after an amazing 150 mile maiden ride on my 20th Anniversary Edition Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade I’ll just repeat what I said right at the start First impressions. ‘O.M.G.’ what an amazing bike.

Ride well and stay safe my friends, it’s a jungle out there and the weather is not on our side!

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